Cover photo for William J. "Bill" Cooke, Jr.'s Obituary
William J. "Bill" Cooke, Jr. Profile Photo

William J. "Bill" Cooke, Jr.

January 25, 1938 — July 22, 2023

West Chester, PA

William J. "Bill" Cooke, Jr.

William J. "Bill" Cooke, Jr of West Chester, PA, passed away on July 22, 2023, at the age of 85.

Bill was born January 25, 1938 in Hackensack, New Jersey, and was the son of the late William J. Cooke and Edna (nee Burgher) Gruenwald.

Bill was the beloved husband of Mary Elizabeth (nee Singleton) Cooke; loving father of Dr. Colleen Foos (LTC(R) William F.) and Dr. Lynn Boni (Dr. Joseph P.); adoring and indulgent grandfather of Dr. William F. Foos Jr., Susannah Foos, Jessica Dragonetti, Annalise Dragonetti, Dr. Vittoria Boni (Harry Scheuerle), and Massimo Boni (Ana); dearest brother of Robert Cooke (Eva), Karen Wilkes, Barbara Williams, and Sandra Helbig. He was predeceased by his wife Adele S. (nee Helbig) Cooke in 2013, who awaits him in heaven at the Rainbow Bridge with their dogs Bonnie, Woogums, Penny, Shannon, Mikey, and cats Fluffy and Cotton.

In high school at Glendale, Arizona, he excelled in football and wrestling and dreamed of attending the United States Military Academy at West Point.  His guidance counselor told him he had a "snowball's chance in hell of getting into West Point".  Nevertheless, he enlisted in the Army, trained as a cryptographer, and was sent to Japan.  He was selected for the Military Academy Prep school, where he fell in love with academics, especially trigonometry.  Based on his excellent standing at the Prep school, Bill was ultimately appointed to the Academy.

Bill met Adele Susannah Helbig just days before starting West Point, and they were married there at the Catholic Chapel on June 23rd, 1963.  They moved to Ft. Lewis, WA where their daughter Colleen was born in 1964. Their daughter Lynn was born in 1965 while Bill was serving as an Infantryman in Vietnam.

He subsequently joined the Corps of Engineers and became fluent in Spanish to work with the Corps in the Panama Canal Zone.  He later served in Korea, after which he was honorably discharged from the Army in 1970.  Bill earned numerous military honors including the Parachute Badge, Combat Infantryman Badge, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Commemorative Vietnam Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Service Medal, and the Meritorious Service Medal.

After the military, Bill worked as a Civil Engineer and became Director of Public Works in Ridgewood, NJ, and of Scarsdale NY.  Bill and Adele retired to West Chester PA to be closer to their daughters, who both became physicians.  Bill was Adele’s rock and support, as they continued to travel and enjoy life until her untimely death in 2013.

Bill found love and joy again in Mary Elizabeth "Libby" who he married in 2014.  They traveled to Israel and had a happy life with their dogs, garden, and pond of huge Koi.

Bill had widely varied interests, including genealogy, Koi ponds, gardening, science, philosophy, history, religion, his pets, and most of all his family. He was generous and kind, and donated to many charities. He told ridiculous Dad jokes, especially about polar bears and peas.

Relatives and friends are invited to his Visitation from 9:30 AM to 10:30 AM, Friday, August 4, 2023, at St. Agnes Church, 233 W. Gay Street, West Chester, PA 19380, followed by his Funeral Mass at 10:30 AM.  Interment at St. Agnes Cemetery with Military Honors.  

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in his name to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Foundation, P.O. Box 781352, Philadelphia, PA 19178-1352.

Past Services

Visitation

Friday, August 4, 2023

9:30 - 10:30 am (Eastern time)

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Funeral Mass

Friday, August 4, 2023

Starts at 10:30 am (Eastern time)

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Interment

Friday, August 4, 2023

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